Ben Lowry (‘Far, far too many people in NI are on DLA,’ Nov 11) is right in his criticism of the system which grants Disability Living Allowance payments to a large number of recipients who elsewhere in the United Kingdom would have their claims disallowed.
Another benefit – closely allied to DLA – is Carer’s Allowance which is paid to persons who claim to provide care for a disabled relative or friend.
There are approximately 70,000 in receipt of this benefit across Northern Ireland, at a cost of £229 million per year.
No doubt many claimants are bona fide carers, providing the required 35 hours of care (such as help with cooking, cleaning or shopping) per week for one of our 210,000 DLA claimants.
However the benefit is wide open to abuse as the Department for Communities has no definition of ‘care’ and consequently asks no questions about the nature of the care provided by claimants.
In some cases, ‘care’ means merely being available for any emergency which might arise during the hours of so-called duty.
In Great Britain, the Department for Work and Pensions applies the ground rules for the definition of ‘care’ as set out by Judge R A Sanders in Commissioner’s Decision CG/012/91.
If these were applied here, there would undoubtedly be a benefit to the public purse but such a move would no doubt be seen by our politicians as a threat to our benefits culture which would be too costly in terms of votes.
Cliff Cardwell, Co Londonderry